With the 2017 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certain players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, have sent their stock rising, falling, or breaking even.
Player: OL Chris Hubbard
Stock Value: Up
Even though he is less likely to play a prominent role in 2017 than in 2016, I do think that it would be accurate to say that the value of Chris Hubbard has risen from a global perspective. Last season was critical for him and for his future after showing that he can be a competent player along the offensive line and as a versatile option capable of being used as the extra lineman.
But it’s entirely possible that he finds himself not only not on the field, but not even dressing for games, because, at least the way things are shaping up on paper, he figures to be the eighth offensive lineman on a team that traditional dresses seven of them.
It is likely that Jerald Hawkins, last year’s fourth-round draft pick who has been consistently talked up from all corners and who looked good last summer before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, will emerge through training camp as the top swing tackle, and B.J. Finney already has the interior reserve position solidified.
To put it simply, that leaves Hubbard without a helmet, but that doesn’t mean that it leaves him without value. Should anybody at any spot along the line go down, he would be able to serve as the backup there. As a former undrafted free agent, he learned quickly the need for a player in his position to be flexible.
Over the course of his three-plus seasons on the 53-man roster, and a year on the practice squad, he has learned to play tackle, guard, and center, in addition to being used as the tackle-eligible tight end. He was previously seen as a better guard prospect than anything else, but he put in three quality starts at tackle last season as an injury fill-in, to the surprise of many.
The Steelers thought enough of him that they gave him a restricted free agent tender, which was not necessary. Even though the deal only comes with the right of first refusal, rather than a draft pick should a team try to sign him, they could have simply let him hit free agency and attempt to re-sign him to a veteran-minimum deal. That they did not suggests not only that they value him, but that they see the likelihood that other teams might as well.